Chef Peter Cuong Franklin Talks Michelin Star, Anan & Vietnamese Food

Peter Cuong Franklin at Anan, his Michelin-starred restaurant in Vietnam. Peter Cuong Franklin

From refugee to Michelin-starred restaurateur, chef Peter Cuong Franklin’s highway to achievements has been just about anything but linear. Franklin fled Saigon in 1975 at the age of 12, and his culinary journey has been intertwined with his repatriation to Vietnam. It’s this exclusive perspective—American and Vietnamese—that is right translated to Franklin’s irreverent, world-wide approach to food stuff at Anan Saigon

Born Nguy?n Hùng C??ng in a compact village outside the house of Da Lat, in the Central Highlands, Franklin was airlifted out of Saigon (in what is now also recognized as Ho Chi Minh Town) in 1975, and subsequently dropped contact with his beginning family in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Adopted by an American naval loved ones, he grew up in Connecticut, going on to graduate from Yale and get the job done in finance in New York, London and, sooner or later, Hong Kong. In 1995, immediately after a childhood close friend situated his start mom, Franklin flew back to Vietnam for the very first time in many years to reunite with her. 

Continue to, Franklin realized anything else was lacking from his lifetime. Walking away from his finance profession, he enrolled at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Paris in 2008, then used time teaching in planet-renowned kitchens like Chicago’s Alinea and Bangkok’s Nahm. In 2013, he opened Chôm Chôm, a modern day Vietnamese restaurant in Hong Kong. 

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Four a long time later, adhering to a split from his associates at Chom Chom, and a divorce from his wife of practically two decades, Franklin resolved it was time for an additional alter. “I felt that mother Vietnam termed me again, for some reason that I was not guaranteed of at the time,” Franklin advised Observer. “I felt like a misplaced prodigal son.” In 2017, he moved back to Vietnam, and right after 5 months of organizing, debuted Anan (which interprets to “eat, eat”) in a five-story tube home within a damp marketplace on Tôn Th?t ??m Avenue.

dining room in crowded restaurant
Anan.

Franklin dubbed the freewheeling model of food at Anan as “Cuisine Mói” or “new Vietnamese,” in a nod to identical modern day culinary movements like “new American” and “new Scandinavian,” in which the traditional flavors of the delicacies are interpreted with the ideal obtainable community ingredients and world techniques. 

At Anan, Franklin combines his American upbringing and Vietnamese background to thoughtfully reimagine Vietnamese classics like turmeric pancakes, or banh xeo, which are introduced as tacos. Banh trang nuong, an open up-faced Vietnamese grilled rice paper dish from Da Lat, is dressed as pizza with a range of toppings like smoked chorizo and mozzarella cheese. Meanwhile, the humble everyman marinated pork chop is dealt with like the greatest of steaks—the thick slash is cooked sous vide just before it’s concluded on the grill. 

Caviar Banh Nhung.

“The hybridity of distinct cultures forces you to obstacle or change a thing,” Franklin explained, pointing out that Vietnam’s most legendary dishes, like pho and banh mi, originated as area adaptations to French and Chinese colonial influences. “But you have to have a deep comprehending of the cultures, not just in a superficial way. To do our pork chop, you want to know the gratification of feeding on a [perfectly cooked] piece of steak” 

That’s not to say Franklin has deserted his Vietnamese roots. His childhood in Vietnam inspires his cooking in extra methods than one particular, as he believes  his innate passion for foods arrives from memories of his mom running a modest noodle soup stand out of the family’s home in Da Lat. 

“When you expand up in a relatives of cooks, it is deeply ingrained in your DNA,” Franklin claimed. “Every early morning, shoppers would appear at 11:30 am. My mom would wake up early to buy ingredients and get started preparing. Right after they ate, we’d clean up, rest and get ready once more. There’s a kind of rhythm and method you know if you perform in a cafe.”

Banh Xeo Taco.

Today, Franklin usually returns to Da Lat to take a look at his mom and relatives—and to resource ingredients. Positioned among temperate, pine-coated mountains, the former French colonial city is identified for making merchandise not discovered elsewhere in Vietnam, like strawberries, artichokes and tomatoes, all of which have appeared on Anan’s menu. Chorizo and other pork merchandise occur from a regional producer, Dalat Deli.

“Having high-excellent western ingredients grown domestically permits us to do extra with Vietnamese delicacies without having relying on imports,” Franklin described. “We’re able to acquire a extra intentional, multicultural method to our taste profiles.” 

The Anan staff receiving their Michelin star. Anan

6 decades right after Anan opened, the restaurant been given a leading accolade in the industry—a coveted Michelin star. The Michelin Guidebook unveiled its initially-at any time Vietnam guidebook in 2023, and of the four stars awarded to the finest culinary standouts in the nation, Anan was the only winner in Saigon. At the ceremony in Hanoi, Franklin took to the stage to declare, “Mom, this one’s for you!”

The inaugural Vietnam Michelin Manual spotlighted 103 places to eat in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh Metropolis (Saigon), and Franklin is optimistic about a new chapter for foods in Vietnam 1 in which the state is acknowledged not only for its quintessential avenue foodstuff, but also for its developing crop of high-quality eating and craft cocktail bars. In 2019, Franklin opened Nhau Nhau (which interprets to “drink, drink”) in the similar developing as Anan, serving inventive beverages like a Phojito (a mojito designed with pho spices like star anise and cinnamon). 

Bun Cha Bourdain.

Even though there is no scarcity of culinary talent in Vietnam, the local cafe marketplace is even now lacking in amount and range. To this finish, Franklin hopes Anan can be a desired destination for youthful expertise wanting for mentorship. Anan currently employs a workforce of 30 younger Vietnamese cooks and front-of-home personnel, and is actively hunting to seek the services of much more women in the kitchen area. “I want to be a mentor for the new era of chefs and bartenders in Vietnam,” Franklin explained. 

Seeking to inject much more selection into the Vietnamese food stuff scene, the 60-12 months-outdated chef is also opening one more dining thought. In September 2023, he’ll unveil Pot Au Ph?, a 16-seat banh mi and noodle soup counter with French and Japanese influences, to the community. At the petite eatery, which is located on the 3rd ground of the exact same constructing as Anan and Nhau Nhau, guests will be able to see Anan’s chefs in action by the open kitchen. The restaurant’s namesake dish is inspired by legendary chef Paul Bocuse’s famed black truffle soup. 

“I’m thrilled to have a space to focus on pho and banh mi,” Franklin said. “In the commencing, I never ever focused on it because I required to show people today that there was extra to Vietnamese food than just those dishes. But they’ve been the elephant in the room—you simply cannot dismiss these dishes. Now, I’m ready to get additional pitfalls.”

How Peter Cuong Franklin is Rewriting the Rules of Vietnamese Cuisine

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